Central square in Kiev, Ukraine
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WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Monday imposed sanctions on seven Kremlin affiliates and four organizations for attempting to interfere in the 2020 US presidential election.
The US Treasury Department described the targeted sanctions as the “inner circle” of Ukrainian lawmaker Andrii Derkach, which was sanctioned last year. Derkach previously worked with Rudy Giuliani to gather harmful information about President Donald Trump’s Democratic opponent, President-elect Joe Biden, and his son Hunter.
“Since at least 2019 Derkach and his employees have been using the US media, US social media platforms and influential US persons to spread misleading and unfounded allegations that current and former US officials are involved in corruption, money laundering and unlawful political influence Ukraine were involved, “the Finance Ministry wrote in a statement.
Giuliani served as Trump’s personal attorney, and his efforts to get Ukraine to open an investigation into the Bidens resulted in Trump’s impeachment over a year ago after the President withheld military aid from Ukraine when asking for such an investigation asked.
“Russian disinformation campaigns against American citizens pose a threat to our democracy,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin wrote in a statement on Monday, without naming Biden or Trump. “The United States will continue to aggressively defend the integrity of our electoral systems and processes.”
In September the Ministry of Finance imposed sanctions on Derkach, describing him as an “active Russian agent for over a decade” with close ties to Russian intelligence services.
“From at least the end of 2019 to mid-2020, Derkach ran an undercover campaign aimed at cultivating false and unsubstantiated reports about US officials in the upcoming 2020 presidential election,” the Treasury Department wrote in a statement at the time.
Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach attends a press conference in Kiev, Ukraine on October 9, 2019, in Kiev, Ukraine, about the pressure from the US Embassy on Ukrainian law enforcement authorities to interfere in the US election process.
Gleb Garanich | Reuters
The Ministry of Finance sanctioned three former Ukrainian government officials, Konstantin Kulyk, Oleksandr Onyshchenko and Andriy Telizhenko, as well as Oleksandr Dubinsky, who is currently a member of the Ukrainian parliament, for publicly joining Derkach.
Kulyk, a former public prosecutor for the Ukrainian government, worked with Derkach to spread false accusations of international corruption, according to the Treasury Department.
Onyshchenko provided Derkach with edited audio recordings of alleged conversations between former Ukrainian and US officials. The recordings were later released by Derkach to discredit US officials and the integrity of the US elections.
Telizhenko, a former Ukrainian diplomat, organized meetings between Derkach and US citizens to discuss how false claims can be spread.
Dubinsky, who serves alongside Derkach in the Ukrainian parliament, previously perpetuated “false stories” that, according to the Treasury Department, were intended to “vilify US presidential candidates and their families.”
The Treasury Department also sanctioned NabuLeaks, Era-Media TOV, Only News and Skeptik TOV, which were described as “Ukraine’s media front companies promoting false narratives at Derkach’s behest”.
The Ministry of Finance also targeted Petro Zhuravel, Dmytro Kovalchuk and Anton Simonenk who worked for Derkach.